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A Newbie wants to know how to differentiate traditional from simplified hanzi

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Da jia hao; I've only been studying hanyu for the last nine months and early on I've acquired the ability to recognize hanzi in small 'bits and pieces.' I'm at the point where I can recognize bunches of characters on awnings, doors, etc., when I'm in Chinatown, but it occurred to me that I'm not able to differentiate traditional from simplified characters. Can anyone tell what's the easiest way to do this. Xie xie ni.

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I can read simplified characters. So, when i read a text in traditional, some of the characters will look different. Usually it will look more ornate. The difference between 谢谢 and 謝謝 is noticeable. What is interesting is when you learn a character well enough you can begin to recognize it in the traditional form. Such as with the previous example. The radical on the left is rendered the same way throughtout, so anytime i see that radical i know what it would look like in simplified form. The easy answer to your question is that when you learn one form, you'll know when you're looking at the other.

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You can learn of components that occur only in a certain set, such as 讠 only in Simplified Chinese.

If there are none, look the characters up to be sure.

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The easy answer to your question is that when you learn one form, you'll know when you're looking at the other.

I would think that this is true most of the time, but not always. I think it is quite difficult to make a connection between 叶 and 葉, or 卫 and 衛, or 苏 and 蘇.

The simplified characters do look simplier (have fewer strokes).

IIRC, only about 2000 characters have been simplified, and most of which were done quite systematically. This list might be useful -> http://www.loria.fr/...t-simp-char.pdf

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The differences are quite logical. If you have a look at a radicals list with both, you will see that it is mainly the radicals that have changed. There are rules for what has changed. With a bit of effort you should be able to work it out. Familiarity with one will help as said earlier. Every time you work out that a character is full form will add to your knowledge and you will see the patterns. Shelley

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The dylansung links in the following post are quite useful in that they provide a bit of actual explanation about the simplifications (Wikipedia has something similar, but not quite as well presented): http://www.chinese-f...post__p__207592 ( http://en.wikipedia...._simplification ). [Note that in that same thread, but a few posts up from the post with the dylansung links, there is a post containing a link to my detailed guide to the 189 CASS/188 POCD radicals, a resource which will help point out the differences between simplified and traditional/Kangxi radical-indexing; then there is also the first half of a CASS < > Kangxi radical conversion chart that I made].

It's not worth worrying too much about list 1 though ( http://dylansung.tri...anzi/t-s-s1.htm ) until such times as you are perhaps pondering what indeed turn out to be unique simplifications.wink.gif That's not to say however that there aren't any characters worth learning in this first list - it includes some pretty frequent and useful ones, and the three that Syklee mentions (叶/葉, 卫/衛, 苏/蘇) are all found within it - but just that they will need to be learnt on a more or less rote, item-by-item basis (concentrating on the simplified or traditional form depending on which variety you are preferring or needing to learn primarily and/or first); that is, there aren't really any consistently clear principles at work here and to extrapolate in the same way that you will be able to between list 2 and 3.

Remember also that there are some characters which, although they may appear simplifications (in at least one of their meanings/uses), may in fact be quite traditional (in at least that one meaning/use) - see for example especially the discussion of 里 versus 裡 towards the end of the third paragraph of my review of the CCD3: http://www.chinese-f...post__p__240942

Not sure if you're interested in the following, but with regard to what are essentially stroke-order guides (e.g. McNaughton's book from Tuttle, or the excellent Character Text for the original Colloquial Chinese course from Routledge, which provides far more [dialogue-based] context than Naughton's very sparse "dictionary" (bear in mind however that the CC Character Text itself has no actual radical and/or stroke-count indexes, just a vocabulary listing arranged by Pinyin reading)), it is best to get the Traditional versions rather than the Simplified, because the traditional forms are usually what you'll be needing the most guidance for and practice with (that's not to say however that at least the CC Character Text doesn't give stroke-order breakdowns for both varieties, but its actual texts will only be given in the variety selected, so if you want e.g. reading practice in traditional, then you really would need to get its Traditional version). Another reason for mentioning these printed resources is that most online stroke-order animations only seem to deal in simplified characters, which is obviously a problem whenever there is a significant difference between a traditional and simplified form.

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or 苏 and 蘇.
and of course &$$#% 甦)(Sorry I couldn't help myself :P )

Other than the radicals, time will make the difference as you learn to read more and you get exposed to both. Write the character down when you see it, look it up later. Often dictionaries will also show the simplified or traditional version and then you just need to make a mental note.

Also if you are in Chinatown I'd make a bet that most of the signs are in Traditional. Unless there is suddenly a new 'mainland' Chinatown that popped up somewhere with simplified signs (led by Tsinghua & PKU Ph.D. students unable to find a job in the crummy US (or other) economy and have suddenly decided to take away business from the Vietnamese-Chinese, Taiwanese, and HK'ers who sort of rule the existing Chinatowns. It could happen. :blink: )

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